Saturday, October 01, 2011

Shameless Promotion for Rip Curl

Wow, just wanted to report some amazing customer service from the fine people at Rip Curl wetsuits. I sent in three of my suits for various repairs, fully intending to pay for the required fixes. They fixed all three of them and sent them back to me, for FREE. And that, folks, is why I will continue to only buy Rip Curl wetsuits.

You simply don't get customer service like that very often these days, and it definitely brightened my week.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

How to Use Droid X Bootstrap

Note: I've been experimenting with alternate ROMs for my Droid X, as I've been unhappy with the support Motorola has offered in regards to new releases, performance, Motoblur bloat, etc. Hence, I'm posting the following primarily for myself as reference information so I can find it easily later. The following information was taken from a forum post found on


  1. Get root
  2. Droid X Bootstrap- $2 on Market or free from Koush's website

Once app is installed, go to your app drawer and click on it. It will ask for Super User permissions, press yes/ok. This will stop it from booting into clockwork after every manual reboot.

How to Backup Your System

A backup is a snapshot of your system at that moment. This will be vital should you experience any issues modifying your phone.

  1. Click on Droid X Bootstrap app
  2. Click Bootstrap Recovery, then click OK when it says Success
  3. Click Reboot Recovery, phone will automatically reboot
  4. Once in the black screen with green writing, you will use the side volume rockers to move up and down and then the camera hard key to select.
  5. Move down to backup/restore and select it.
  6. Move to Backup and select it
  7. The phone will begin to create a full backup (nandroid) of your system, data, and cache. This will take about 5 minutes to generate. After it is finished it will take you back to the main screen. If you want to move back to previous screens use the back hard key.
  8. Select reboot system now.
  9. You can view your backups in your file manager. There will be a clockworkmod folder where the backups reside. You can change the name of the file, but do not use spaces or odd characters. For example, use a dash - rather than a backslash / for dates.

How to Restore a Backup

If you have issues with your setup after a ROM or theme install, you can restore a backup made when the system was running correctly.

  1. Click on Droid X Bootstrap app
  2. Click Bootstrap Recovery, then OK when it says Success
  3. Click Reboot Recovery and phone will automatically reboot.
  4. When black screen with green writing appears, select backup/restore.
  5. Then select Restore.
  6. Choose the backup you want to restore. If you don't change the name of the file, they have the date and time stamp as the file name.
  7. Select backup and then the phone will begin restoring the backup.
  8. When its finished, it will take you to main screen, select reboot system now.

How to Install a Rom

  1. Click Droid X Bootstrap app, hit bootstrap recovery, click ok, then reboot recovery.
  2. Go to mounts. (Optional, read instructions on ROM install) Mount system. If system is mounted, prompt will read "unmount system"
  3. Format data, click yes
  4. Format cache, click yes
  5. Back arrow
  6. Install zip from sd card
  7. Go to folder where zip is. If you downloaded zip from stock browser and didn't move it, it will be in the DOWNLOAD folder.
  8. Click on the zip you want to install, then yes.
  9. Once install is finished, back arrow, and reboot.


  1. You can have as many backups as you'd like
  2. If you get and md5 sum error, its probably bacause you renamed the file with unrecognized characters.
  3. Yes, when you manually reboot it will always go to bootstrap recovery unless you do the very first step after installing. Just select reboot system now.
  4. If it does not boot into bootstrap recovery, and you need it to, you can boot into stock recovery and do a factory reset and then restore a backup.

How to Boot Into Stock Recovery

  1. Hold power button and and home hard key.
  2. When M screen appears, release home key.
  3. A screen with a small green Droid and an ! will appear. Push search hard key.
  4. Use volume rocker to select wipe data/cache then factory reset.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Installing Ubuntu Netbook Remix 10.04 on a Dell 700m

At home, I have an older Dell 700m laptop which has had linux installed on it in one form or another for a few years. I have a soft spot for this laptop due to its small size and decent performance, even though a newer Toshiba I bought recently has more power. So, I thought that with Ubuntu 10.04 now out, I'd give the netbook remix a try.

For those of you not familiar with the netbook remix distribution of Ubuntu, it "is optimised to run on a new category of affordable Internet-centric devices called netbooks. It includes a new consumer-friendly interface that allows users to quickly and easily get on-line and use their favourite applications." Specifically, it has been designed to start up quickly and sports a user interface suitable for smaller sized screens, like the one that the Dell 700m sports.

So I downloaded the Ubuntu Netbook Remix ISO and burned it to a CD. Newer laptops and netbooks support booting froma USB device, but I wasn't sure if the 700m supported this, and so went with the sure thing. Sliding the CD into the CD-ROM tray, I reboot the computer and wait.

Hrm. After a minute or two, the computer has stopped accessing the CD, but the screen is black. Hrm. I try a few kernel boot options from the grub menu (like noacpi, and a few others), and continue to receive the black screen devoid of all things linuxy. You know what? After banging my head on the 10.04 server install, I am now getting a bit irate. I'm at home, spending what little free time I have trying to get this SOB working, and it just isn't giving me the time of day - time to shut it down for the evening before I go supernova.

Fast forward to the next day. Doing a bit of research on the Ubuntu Forums (a good support site, although a bit overwhelmed right now due to the release), I find that I am not alone. It turns out that laptops sporting the Intel 855GM video chipset (and others in that family) were having severe problems with the kernel. I find this especially ironic, since according to the netbook remix site, "Canonical has collaborated with Intel...". *snort*

There is a workaround (or two, or three, or four) for this problem, and I appended the "i915.modeset=1" kernel boot parameter to the grub configuration, and I was then able to get video (which is always helpful for those of us with eyes). So the install finally went through to completion, and I had a netbook install on my Dell 700m.

Unfortunately, the 3D portion of the Intel drivers must not be enabled, because performance of the 3D enabled netbook launcher is atrocious. We are talking about several second delays when switching categories, slow/nonexistent feedback when launching an application. Once you get a normal application launched, then it performs fine (like chrome or the gnome terminal app).

So, that is where it stands so far. I am expecting a kernel update in the very near future to sort out the Intel video bug, and then everything will be fine. However, I pity the fool who tries to install the netbook remix with a similar video chipset, and isn't very familiar with linux.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ubuntu Installed on New Server

When we last left our hero, I was struggling to get Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) up and running on a new server box with software RAID 1. Since that time, I have scoured the Ubuntu forums and searched the bug report databases, and found that I was not alone in my frustration. While misery does love company, this did nothing to help me resolve the situation at hand.

In the meantime, the flaky VMware server box continued to act flaky. I had had enough, and decided to try installing the previous release of Ubuntu, 9.10 (Karmic Koala). Unlike my previous attempts with 10.04, 9.10 installed perfectly the first time and I was in business! To quote John McClane in Die Hard, "Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker."

The next step I took in my journey to server nirvana was to read up on Ubuntu's Uncomplicated Firewall, ufw for short. As the name implies, it is trivial to set up and use if you have a modicum of networking knowledge (quick test: on which port does an HTTP server usually listen?). Using ufw, I locked down the server nice and tight, allowing connections from our local network and my home IP address (for remote administration).

Next came the virtualization software installation. I have become convinced that VMware Server is not the virtualization software for me. The web based administration software was nice, when it worked. However, I found that when I most needed it to work, it oftentimes did not. In that, it is remarkably like an automobile not starting up in a bad horror movie.

I've worked with VirtualBox as a desktop virtualization solution, and knew that it could also operate in a "headless" (think no GUI) mode. So, I took the plunge and install VirtualBox 3.1 on the new server. If you want to look into installing VirtualBox for a similar purpose, I can't recommend this site enough - it helped me out enormously and walked me through the process in an almost pain-free manner.

Thankfully, VirtualBox can use VMware server's virtual disk drive files (vmdk), so I moved our web server virtual machine over from the old VMware install to the new VirtualBox ... ummm... box. My heart stopped a bit when I first tried to start up the new virtual machine, as it would not boot. However, after checking the "Enable IO APIC support" in the virtual machine settings, I was off and running.

I am going to hold off on moving any other virtual machines from the old to the new until I am confident in the new system. Or the other one blows up - whichever comes first.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Trying Out Ubuntu 10.04 RC1 - Fail!

The main server at my place of employment which houses three virtual machines (two linux, one XP) has been acting very flaky over the last month or so. The server tends to crash and restart itself, with the virtual machines sometime coming back up, and other times not.

The reason why the virtual machines do not come back up sometimes is due to the presence of VMware's .lck directories, which do not always get cleaned up appropriately. So, I have to go in there and remove the offending files, and then start the virtual machines back up via the VMware web console.

I have tried just about everything I can think of to find the cause of the server reboots. Temperatures of the four CPU cores is good (checked via the sensors command), as are the hard drives (checked with hddtemp). I've tested the memory, and all looks good there. So, I am at my wit's end.

The server is running Ubuntu 8.04 LTS, and a new release of LTS is due out tomorrow. I thought that I'd try installing the release candidate on a new server box I put together recently, and see how it faired. Unfortunately, after making my way through 98% of the installation, the installer failed when trying to install the grub2 boot loader.

Gah. There is an option for the legacy grub boot loader, so I tried that. No joy. I am not trying to installed the server OS on exotic hardware here. It is a RAID 1 setup, but I was able to install the same setup in 8.04. I have heard that there is a bug in grub2 relating to multi-boot systems, but that doesn't apply to my setup.

Frak. Frakfrakfrakfrak!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

An Early End to My Soccer Season

I blink my eyes and time seems to sweep by in great bounding leaps covering weeks at a time. Better to be busy than bored, I think, and my family certainly keeps me busy!

I've been playing in my third season of adult soccer, and this season has mostly been injury filled and disappointing. Ever since my ankle injury in January of this year, my right ankle has just not been "right". When one part of your body is injured, you naturally try to reduce the amount of stress placed on that area of the body. Unfortunately, doing this can often times cause problems for the other areas of your body which aren't used to this new stress.

Since my ankle was injured, I haven't felt comfortable out on the field. Rolling an ankle increases the likelihood of doing it again, so it can become a fairly vicious injury-circle. I've tried doing some ankle strengthening exercises, and was beginning to feel better when I was struck down by another injury.

A few people on my team were scrimmaging against some local soccer coaches, and after about an hour and a half of a good scrimmage, I found myself attempting to make up on defense forthe sweeper who muffed getting the ball out of the back. I caught up with the striker and tried sticking a leg out in front to get a touch on the ball, when I suddenly felt my hamstrings go *sproing* (or something like that).

I went down immediately to try and minimize any possible damage beyond what was already done, and made my way home with an ice pack grafted onto my leg. It wasn't a horrible injury in regards to pain, especially compared to my previous calf muscle tears and ankle injury, but it was enough to know that I would not be able to play soccer for a few weeks.

After three weeks, I came back to the pitch to try and give it a go again after running on it a bit during my lunch hour. However, it was not rested enough and after one attempted sprint to close on another player during a game, I knew I was done for the season and took myself out of the game.

So here I am, three weeks from my previous attempt at returning, and now I'm trying a bit of jogging and plan to work my way back up to the sprinting one needs to do during a game. With my season over, I can now focus on taking it one step at a time to try and ensure that when the next season rolls around, I'll be ready.

P.S. Getting old sucks!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Sumatra PDF Viewer

This will be a very quick blog post, perhaps more appropriately classified as a "shout-out". The PDF format is wonderful for preserving detailed formatting across multiple platforms, and is all over the web. Thus, we need an application to view these files.

Most people are familiar with Adobe Acrobat Viewer, as Adobe was the original creator of the PDF format, and hence had the first authoring and viewing tools for the PDF format. Unfortunately, their viewer application continues to increase is size and decrease in speed with each successive release. The later versions of the application go so far as to auto-run portions of the application at startup, to reduce perceived start up times later on when you actually want to view a PDF file (much like that bloated pig of an office suite - MS Office).

If you are looking for a lighter weight solution to viewing PDF files on the Windows platform, let me recommend the Sumatra PDF Viewer. It is light weight, clean, and functional. It does not contain all of the bells and whistles in Adobe Acrobat Viewer (like form filling), but then again, that is why it is so small and fast.

Give it a try and see if it does what you need - so far, it has exceeded all of my requirements and expectations!

P.S. I was using Foxit for a while, but had problems with it updating under Vista. Plus, all of the ads sort of soured me on the software.